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About the RTPI

The Royal Town Planning Institute is the UK's leading planning body for spatial, sustainable and inclusive planning and is the largest planning institute in Europe with over 25,000 members.

We help our members to achieve their full potential, and we strive to put planning and planners centre stage of the built environment professions.

Victoria Hills,
RTPI Chief Executive

The RTPI is: 

  • A membership organisation and a Chartered Institute responsible for maintaining professional standards and accrediting world class planning courses nationally and internationally.
  • A charity whose charitable purpose is to advance the science and art of planning (including town and country and spatial planning) for the benefit of the public.
  • A learned society.

We also run Planning Aid England and have a trading company, RTPI Services Limited.

Our campaigning activity covers a wide range of issues, helping to raise the profile of the profession and generate awareness of the invaluable contribution planners make to building sustainable communities and helping to drive economic wealth.

We work in partnership with employers to promote the professional development of planning professionals.

Our membership

Our membership

As at January 2019 RTPI membership was as follows:

  • 25,067 members
  • 39% female and 61% male
  • Members by RTPI Nation:
    • International 1,316 members in 80 countries
    • Scotland 2,071 members
    • Wales 1,149 members
    • Northern Ireland 698 members
    • Ireland 332 members
    • England 19,501 members in the following RTPI regions:
      • East of England – 2,094
      • East Midlands – 1,330
      • London – 2,845
      • North East – 847
      • North West – 2,145
      • South East – 3,913
      • South West – 2,641
      • West Midlands – 1,701
      • Yorkshire – 1,738
  • BAME 7% of members
  • Employment sector:
    • Public sector 59%
    • Private sector 30%
    • Third sector 9%
    • Other 2%

Our history

The term town planning was first used in Britain in 1906. The statutory practice of town planning stemmed from the Housing, Town Planning, etc Act 1909, which permitted local authorities under the close supervision of the Local Government Board to prepare such schemes for land in course of development, or likely to be developed. The schemes were particularly appropriate for suburban areas, where they regulated both the layout of land and the density of development, and reserved land for new highways.

At this time town planning had not established itself as an art or science, but practitioners in the activity were increasing in number rapidly. Many found it convenient to see their work as distinctive within a number of professions which came to engage in this area - architecture, surveying, municipal engineering and the law.

At first these four professions sought to work collaboratively; however, Thomas Adams played a leading part in discussions that went beyond mere co-operation from 1910 onwards. In that year Adams was appointed the first Town Planning Inspector at the Local Government Board; he then began to meet regularly with a small group of practitioners, and the notion of town planning being an area of distinctive expertise took hold.

On 11 July 1913 a provisional committee of the group was set up at a meeting in London. A membership list was drawn up, derived not only from the professions, but also amateurs interested in but not directly associated with the subject. An invitation was sent to them to join a Town Planning Institute and a first meeting was convened, chaired by Thomas Adams on 21 November 1913. A Council was elected and met for the first time in December; Adams was elected President on 13 March 1914. An inaugural dinner on 30 January 1914 marked the public launching of the Institute, and the Articles of Association were signed on 4 September 1914, which is designated the date of the Institute's founding. The first three of the objects for which the Institute was established in the Articles of Association read as follows:

  • To advance the study of town-planning, civic design and kindred subjects, and of the arts and sciences as applied to those subjects;
  • To promote the artistic and scientific development of towns and cities;
  • To secure the association, and to promote the general interests of those engaged or interested in the practice of town-planning.

Alfred R Potter was appointed the Institute's first Secretary on 18 December 1914; the Institute's first London office was at 4 Arundel Street, near Temple.


  • Planning for Town and Country context and achievement 1914-1989 (RTPI 75th anniversary brochure)
  • Year Book of the Town Planning Institute 1937-8
  • Town Planning in Britain since 1900 Gordon E Cherry, 1996
  • Some historical and general notes relating to the Charter report by George Pepler, September 1946